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SP welcomes Belgian request for Court ruling on CETA

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14 Dec 2016The SP has welcomed Belgium’s decision to move swiftly to ask the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to rule on parts of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. Particularly concerning is the arbitration system which forms a section of the treaty, a system which is extremely controversial and in the view of many experts, including academics and judges, could be in conflict with the European system of law. The European Parliament recently refused to request such a judgment.

SP Euro-MP Anne-Marie Mineur notes that the requested advice is urgently needed. “The decision regarding CETA is now only waiting for the European Parliament’s approval,” shesays. “Following that, the treaty will be sent to the national parliaments. A speedy request to the ECJ will mean that its ruling can still be taken into account in their debates. In our country a decision by Parliament might be put to the people in a referendum.” For this to happen, 300,000 signatures are needed on a petition. As Mineur points out, “of these 300,000, two-thirds have already been collected.”

Despite widespread resistance to the arbitration system, the European Commission has been in the meantime working on a multilateral investment court. Mineur’s principal criticism, however, is of the fact that the court of arbitration should be employed exclusively in relation to the treaty itself, and not to judge the suitability of national laws or international treaties. “That means that the system can be used to challenge national laws and international treaties. This will enable governments to be put under pressure and thus to undermine legislation.”

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